‘Tornado Tim’ takes Jaguar XF AWD into Tornado Alley
The challenge: Collect data, help to predict storms
Extreme conditions for XF’s all-surface capability
Storm-chaser ‘Tornado Tim’ Baker used a Jaguar XF to hunt through America’s Midwest in search of a tornado as the 2016 storm season came to a dramatic close.
What’s a storm-chaser? Somebody who uses a vehicle-based mobile laboratory to help to predict tornadoes and save lives. Baker saw the all-wheel drive XF as perfect for a 3200km chase team to catch a tornado and collect vital data.
The chase ranged, Jaguar reports, along highways, byways and even farm tracks through seven US states. The XF had to contend with cricket ball-sized hailstones, drive through floods and suffer buffeting by high winds before it intercepted a “twister” on the Iowa/Illinois border.
Baker said later: “Storm-chasing is all about getting to the right place at the right time – while staying out of trouble. It’s been an interesting year for storms so it was great to try out this car as the season came to a close.
“It took us a while to track one down but, when the weather map was delivered, the car delivered too. The navigation and in-car wi-fi – the latter enabling us to connect our multiple devices – worked brilliantly in the chase.
“The all-wheel-drive capability was also excellent as we travelled through rain and floods on loose gravel roads.”
The chase began with the biggest storm of the 2016 season looming over the American Midwes, with perhaps 95-million people in its path. It took Baker, from Denver, Colorado, right up into Minnesota and down to Illinois.
During the chase he met Brian Smith, a warning co-ordination meteorologist at the Omaha office of the National Weather Service which uses radar data to help scientists issue prompt and life-saving warnings to agencies and the public.
Tornado-chasers such as Tim, and the vehicles they use, are vital to the often satellite-based weather-warning network because it takes people on the ground to confirm the storms.
Experts can then analyse their path, study them, and predict future disasters.
The AWD XF found its twister when Baker intercepted a Category EF 0 (100-130km/h winds) tornado two hours west of Chicago. The storm drenched the region, flooded roads and scattered debris but the car, he reported, coped brilliantly with the dirt roads and slippery highways.
With roads blocked, Baker used the Jaguar’s super-quick, pinch-‘n-zoom, 3D and satellite mapping to find a safe way around the tornado. Overnight, the storm delivered several more tornadoes powerful enough to damage buildings.
Kevin Stride, production-line director for the Jaguar XF, said: “This was a real showcase for the XF’s capabilities. Baker was able to view storm data on the car’s 24cm touchscreen and use its In-Control Touch Pro satnav to find them – while travelling in comfort.
“When the weather deteriorated the car’s all-surface capability and torque-on-demand all-wheel drive came into its own. The XF’s AdSR was able to exploit fully all available traction by altering mapping of the throttle, auto transmission and traction system to give confidence on the gravel tracks and cope with flooding and high winds.
“The tornado provided extremely diverse challenges so we knew this would be a genuine test for the XF. We were delighted that it handled all the conditions with ease – and come back in one piece.”